Reporters of all Dutch TV-stations and newspapers gathered early Tuesday-morning, April 2, 1996. For years reports about "the eviction of the last big squatted house in Amsterdam" had been spread, but the once famous Amsterdam-squatters' movement had re-emerged. The journalists all got what they came for: violence, drama, a circus. But, the average age of these squatters was 20, or under 20. Due to cutbacks in social security, students' allowances, high unemployment rates, rent-prices rising 6% every year, more and more young people see no other way to get a roof over their heads than to squat a building. After the enormous influence of squatters in the early 80's, their downfall in the mid-80's, a new generation of squatters seem to demand their place in Dutch society now.
First one up this Tuesday was a squat on the Heerengracht 584, in the centre of Amsterdam. It had been squatted only three days before, and was going to be evicted under article 429, the one and a half year old anti-squat law, that says squatting of a building that has been used in the last one year is forbidden, and can be evicted without any intervention from a judge. Squatters said at had been empty for over 3 years. The owner is the ING-Bank (the one that bought Nick Leesons' bankrupt Barings Bank). When the police-column arrived this early Tuesday-morning there were no squatters any more: all water-taps were open and the place looked like a post-modern swimming pool. Next one up was a former supermarket in the east of town. A big audience watched the police open the doors: nothing.
Only a few hundred meters away from the supermarket is the Zeeburgerpad. The houses and (small) industrial buildings were to be demolished because the Town-Council of Amsterdam wants to build a road that connects the development-area New-East to the older part of the city. For ten years people in the Old-East part of town had been protesting this road, that would cause even more traffic in the already congested City. In 1994 squatters took over the last buildings that were to be demolished for this plan, and tried to get a referendum organized on this plan. For this purpose they gathered over 7,000 signatures, but the Town-Council turned down the request for a referendum, saying some of the people signing the request were no longer traceable. In the period they lived there the squatters turned this piece of town in a social-cultural project: they organized concerts and discussions, run a soup kitchen and established an atmosphere of self-organisation.
The Zeeburgerdijk-squatters built barricades in the night before their eviction. One of these barricades was lit at 7.30 a.m., directly beneath a railroad crossing nearby. Train traffic was down for an hour. The police did not arrive immediately, they decided to evict the two earlier mentioned squats first. The fire of the barricade was extinguished by the fire brigade at approximately 8.30 a.m., without any interference from the squatters. After the police had evicted the supermarket, at 10.00 a.m., police-spokesman Wilting told the press the eviction of the Zeeburgerpad-buildings were to be a piece of cake. At 11.30 a.m., the police-column with water-throwers, bulldozers and helicopter moved in.
Resistance was bigger than the police ever expected. After the first barricade was a second, containing steel, a wrecked car and a caravan. From the roofs of the first building squatters were throwing rotten fruit. When they ran out of fruit they turned to stones. Others were banging oil-drums. The water-cannon was spraying its smelly contents over the squatters on the roof. Since the toilets in the Zeeburgerpad had been broken for weeks, buckets full of shit were thrown off the buildings on the heads of riot-police standing in line when there were no more stones available. One squatter inside one of the buildings, reporting live by telephone, told Vrije Keyser Radio he was ready to throw the telephone itself out of the window, just to stop the eviction. After an hour some policemen managed to get into the back of the building and soon the squatters inside were rounded up, but not after one of them had fallen off the roof (squatters say he was pushed, he's not in hospital any more). Thirty-six (36) squatters got arrested. They were taken to police-headquarters charged with 'violence in public' (article 141).
That night a group of approximately 100 squatters demonstrated out of solidarity with the imprisoned comrades. At that moment, nobody knew what had happened to the squatter that fell off the roof. After arriving at police headquarters the demonstrators smashed some windows, turned a car upside down and left some steel on the pavement. They went on to the Prinsengracht-police-station, where they 'punked' (= trashed) the front of the building: a sign that was hanging at the front of this station is now on display in the nearest squatters' bar. One person was arrested that night. In the following hours most of the arrested people were released.
Yet, six of them remained in jail. After nine days, April 11th, they were taken to appear in court. Police-detectives told they had recognized them throwing stones, etc. The prosecutor demanded 10 day jail-sentences. After this court-session they were released. A sentence of 9 days (the period they already spent in jail) is expected. The other 30 squatters will have to appear in court on a later date. But, they're all homeless now, and looking for new places to live. So, new buildings have been squatted in the past few days, all these squats risk eviction as well, and, there's more houses/buildings that will be evicted soon. These evictions will be followed by squatting new houses, too...
Vrije Keyser Radio - Amsterdam, April 17, 1996
---------------------------- Vrije Keyser Radio
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